Hundreds of students chase Aaron Porter through Manchester

National Union of Students President Aaron Porter was unable to speak at the rally of today’s NUS/UCU demonstration in Manchester, after hundreds of angry students chased him off the streets.

As protesters gathered at the starting point on Oxford Road, about thirty activists from Hull Students Against Fees and Cuts and Leeds University Against Cuts accosted Porter and demanded that he justify his record. Instead of engaging with us, Porter turned and hurried off – only to find himself followed by growing numbers of demonstrators from across the North. Within a couple of minutes he was literally being chased through the streets of Manchester by about half those who had gathered at that point – certainly more than five hundred people – with chants including “Students, workers, hear us shout, Aaron Porter sold us out” and “Porter – out”. Eventually he took refuge in Manchester Metropolitan Students’ Union, protected by a heavy cordon of riot police.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Porter did not turn up to speak at closing rally. Instead, NUS was represented by his deputy, Vice-President Further Education Shane Chowan – who was unable to finish his speech after he was drowned out by hostile chanting and pelted with eggs.

The rally was deathly dull, with trade union bureaucrat after trade union bureaucrat telling us what we already knew (with the partial exception of Matt Wrack from the FBU, who gave a fairly militant performance). The atmosphere among the several thousand protesters – overwhelmingly students – was very different. Most of the speakers were heckled repeatedly, and chants about student-worker unity, the need for strike action and the revolts in Tunisia and Egypt were very popular. After the end of the rally, about a thousand students marched independently into town, led by the student left (NCAFC, SWP, Workers’ Liberty, Revolution, anarchists). We were met by a huge and violent police presence, and at the time of writing many of us are still kettled on Deansgate in central Manchester – though having comrades sing the Internationale with us from across the road helped keep up our spirits.

After the chasing off of Aaron Porter, one other bit of good news. Pat Murphy, a comrade who sits on the National Union of Teachers executive, told us today that the committee had, on his initiative, voted to delete a proposal to invite Porter to speak at NUT conference in April. Hated and hunted by his own members, Porter is starting to be shunned by many trade unionists too.

(Thanks to Workers’ Liberty students for this report. More reports of the protests in Manchester and London today will be posted on the site soon.)

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  1. Well what you describe sounds really nasty, horrible and totally unhelpful to the cause. You describe hundreds of people chasing young man who must have been feeling genuine fear as ‘good news’ You disgrace the cause and your movement, I sincerely hope you find some other hobby so serious people can get on with stopping this government destroy lives.

  2. Its just a shame that you and your comrades (communists) are just as discredited as the ConDem coalition and NuLabour. We need a new voice and fresh ideas, not just the raving dogma of a man who died 150 years ago. The marxist utopia is a beautiful dream, very seductive. But thats all it is, a dream.

  3. Oh Jesus, the enemy is supposed to be the government. Not the old-school union barons or the duplicitous Mr Porter. Do try to remember this.

  4. When a union leader has sold out a mass movement as comprehensively and repeatedly as Porter has, it’s perfectly legitimate to target him. He did it again yesterday when NUS failed to support the 10,000 strong demonstration in London.

  5. The NUS is completely irrelevant, this isn’t a game of who is most right on. It is not within the gift of Arron Porter to stop the fees/cvuts agenda, that is why you should focus your energies on the government. History will judge Aaron Porter.

  6. Claude Coopersmith says:

    It appears that some of the comments against Porter were anti semetic. I am sure this is not the official line of NCAFC and your website should at the very least denounce those who make anti semertic and racist statements. I am not aware he has any jewish heritage, if he does its irrelevant to his stand on the issues. Seems like some on the far left behave like and use the language of the far right. How very re assuring for the vast majority.

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